Use, acceptability and impact of booklets designed to support mental health self-management and help seeking in schools: Results of a large randomised controlled trial in England

Helen Sharpe, Praveetha Patalay, Panos Vostanis, Jay Belsky, Neil Humphrey, Miranda Wolpert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Mental health booklets may provide a low-cost means of promoting mental health self-management and help seeking in schools.
Aims: To assess the (a) use, (b) acceptability and (c) impact of booklets for students in primary (10-11yrs) and secondary school (12-13yrs) alone and in conjunction with funding for targeted mental health support.
Methods: A 2x2 factorial cluster randomized controlled trial, in which 846 schools in England were randomly allocated to receive/not receive: (1) booklets for students containing information on mental health self-management and help seeking, and (2) funding for mental health support as part of a national mental health initiative. 14,690 students (8,139 primary, 6,551 secondary) provided self-report on mental health, quality of life (baseline and one year follow up) and help seeking (follow up).
Results: (a) Approximately 40% primary school students and 20% secondary school students reported seeing the booklets. (b) Of these, 87% of primary schools students reported that the booklet was ‘very helpful’ or ‘quite helpful’, compared with 73% in secondary school. (c) There was no detectable impact of booklets on mental health, quality of life or help seeking, either alone or in conjunction with additional funding through the national mental health initiative.
Discussion: Lack of discernable impact of booklets underscores the need for caution in adopting such an approach. However, it is feasible that impact was obscured by low uptake or that booklets may be more effective when used in a targeted way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-324
JournalEuropean child & adolescent psychiatry
Volume26
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2017

Keywords

  • self-management
  • help seeking
  • schools
  • adolescents
  • mental health problems

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